“Knits, Anyone?”

Our fast approaching summer is a great time to dip your toes in the waters of garment construction if you have never tried it.  Garments associated with summer are usually simple in their construction techniques and looser in fit so the learning curve doesn’t have to be so steep.  There are usually no linings necessary and summer fabrics rarely have a nap that needs to be considered.  An easy pair of elastic waist shorts or a skirt might be just the thing to expand your wardrobe and your sewing confidence.

If you decide to take it a step further, you may want to try sewing on a knit fabric.  Making your own summer tops can not only be fun and satisfying, but can also be very budget friendly.  Since most folks are not as comfortable sewing on knits as on wovens, I thought I would provide a bit of information to make navigating working with knits a bit easier.  Patterns for knit garments are specially sized, usually much smaller than your actual measurements, so don’t be surprised if the pattern tissue is smaller than you are.  If they were not sized this way, the fabric would not hang nor fit properly.  Buy a pattern in your size (according to the measurements on the pattern envelope) specifically sized for knits.  Next, all knits have a percentage of stretch and patterns will either tell you how much stretch is needed for their pattern or they will provide a “pick a knit” ruler on the back of the pattern envelope.  It’s very important to follow these given guidelines for the proper fit.  Generally, a 10” piece of knit, folded crosswise about 12” away from the cut edge of the fabric, should be able to stretch to 12” for 25% stretch, to 15” for 50% stretch, to 17.5” for 75% stretch and to 20” for 100% stretch.  Remember to check the pattern envelope for the yardage you will need.  Knits are most commonly found as 58” to 60” wide fabric, so you will usually need a bit less than you would if the yardage was for a woven material, which is generally 45” to 54” wide.

Finally, make sure you have a stretch needle (sometimes called a ball point or jersey needle) for your machine and some quality polyester thread.  This is also a great time to make use of those terrific stretch stitches on your machine.  Most important of all…Have fun!  Happy Sewing!

Once you know how to determine the amount of stretch a fabric has, matching it with the right pattern is easy. This explanation comes from the 1983 edition of “Sew! The Ann Person Method “, page 3.
Here’s a close up of the table on that page.
Make sure your pattern is sized for knits. This is extremely important.
This particular pattern is sized for both knits and wovens. The leggings are sized for knits and the tops are sized for knits or wovens. Make sure you read the envelope carefully before purchasing your fabric!
Most patterns sized for knits will have a pick-a-knit ruler on the back of the pattern envelope. The ruler is very easy to understand and use so you can be more assured of success!
Lastly, make sure to check the fabric suggestions box. In this case, the leggings have to be made from a knit but the tops can be made from a knit or a woven material.